Measles outbreak prompts vaccine warnings ahead of holiday travel season

Health officials are urging parents to vaccinate young children against the measles ahead of the busy holiday travel season.

Europe is experiencing a large outbreak of measles right now and 220 cases of the highly contagious virus were confirmed in the United States as of November 3.

While there has not been a case of measles in Montana since 1990, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and the Gallatin City-County Health Department are asking parents to take extra precautions to protect young children against anything carried by travelers.

"It's not a reason to be afraid, it's not a reason not to travel or see the world, but it is a reason to take advantage of those amazing advances in public health that vaccines offer,” said Matt Kelley, Health Officer with the Gallatin Health Department.

Under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kelley and state health authorities say children ages 7 and under should get their first or second MMR vaccine ahead of any travel.

Measles spreads through coughing, sneezing and respiratory droplets. It is significantly more contagious than influenza and the common cold.

Babies, pregnant women, the immunocompromised and the unvaccinated are most at risk of contracting the disease.

If your child is showing signs of high fever, runny nose, cough, and the tell-tale head to toe rash, call the health department.

Measles complications can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis and even death.

Luckily, it is very preventable with vaccines.

Bureau Chief

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